For closer followers of the GOP race for prez, the question of the moment is whether Newt Gingrich will experience the same sudden rise followed by a sudden fall as have the other candidates who have briefly been declared to be the chief alternative to perpetual co-frontrunner Mitt Romney.
Political Scientist Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin and of “Polls and Votes,” notes some significant differences between Gingrich and the other anybody-but-Romneys. For one, Gingrich started out, along with Romney, as the only two Repubs with high name recognition. And, of course, it has stayed high.
Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann were all relatively new names to a lot of the electorate and experienced a sudden spike in name recognition that coincided with a spike in their poll ratings and their favorability. Seems pretty clear that a lot of Repub voters searching for a non-Romney briefly embraced someone relatively unknown to them, then fled when they learned more about the person, or when gaffes or scandals punctured the balloons.
It’s certainly possible that the same will happen to Gingrich. He produces plenty of controversial statements and has a number of scandals circling around him that his current enthusiasts may or may not have fully considered. But the other thing that Franklin notes is that — looking at the poll measure of “net favorability — Gingrich has made a slow, steady rise (after the disastrous rollout and dismal beginning of his presidential campaign).
I guess these differences at least raise the possibility that Gingrich is the non-Romney who will last. although I personally make no such prediction.
It is impressive that the two-thirds to three-quarters of the Republican electorate that is resistant to Romney seems willing to at least flirt with so many different alternatives, even as the Repub establishment keeps telling them that Romney is the only plausible president in the field and their best chance to beat Obama.